Fagioli all Uccelletto with cavolo nero

Fagioli all Uccelletto with cavolo nero

Sometimes a dish comes along that reminds me how wonderfully flavoursome, satisfying and comforting good vegetarian food can be.

Fagioli all’ Uccelletto, or “beans made in the manner of little birds”, is a Tuscan dish classically made with cannellini beans served in a rich tomato sauce. The name is derived from the herbs (particularly sage) used to season small game birds so dear to the Tuscany culinary tradition.

I came across this dish at Silvana de Soissons’ Foodie Bugle lunch party earlier this month. She prepared her fagioli all’ uccelleto with a mix of borlotti, haricot and butter beans, along with cavalo nero (my favourite type of kale). This was by far my favourite dish of the meal.

Cavalo Nero

When Silvana came ’round to serve the beans, she said, “to me, this is lunch”, and I couldn’t agree with her more. This is precisely the kind of food I love and live on, and this dish reminded me that some of the most deliciously wholesome food in life comes from the combination of just a few simple, quality ingredients.

This is also the type of dish that might inspire people who are usually mystified by vegetables like kale to use more of these ingredients. The beans and tomato sauce really bring the cavalo nero into its own. Forget River Cottage Veg, THIS is what everyday vegetarian cooking is all about.

Thank you to Silvana for sharing the recipe with me and allowing me to reprint it here. I’ve already made a batch once, and suspect I’ll be making it many times again.

Fagioli all Uccelletto with cavolo nero

Recipe courtesy of Silvana de Soissons. You can see a picture of her version on Flickr.


  • 400g cooked beans (butter, haricot, borlotti all work well or a mixture of all)
  • 250g cavolo nero
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 chilli, deseeded, finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp. of finely chopped sage or rosemary needles
  • Zest and juice of an unwaxed lemon
  • 250g fresh, ripe tomatoes, chopped into small pieces (can be tinned tomatoes if that’s all you’ve got)


  1. If you are cooking dried beans, soak overnight in water and then drain them. Boil in fresh water for an hour or more, until they are cooked and soft. If using jars of cooked beans then just drain and rinse.
  2. Wash the cavolo nero and tear off the leaves in small pieces. Discard the tough stalks. Blanch the cavolo nero in boiling, salted water for about 2-3 minutes, then drain.
  3. In a large sauté pan heat quite a generous amount of olive oil and sauté the onion, garlic and chilli for about 5 minutes. Season with sea salt and pepper.
  4. Add the cavolo nero, the tomatoes, the beans, lemon zest and the rosemary or sage. Mix well and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Serve hot with a drizzle of more olive oil and lemon juice, hot bread or crostini.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Per serving: 272 Calories | 11.2 grams Fat | 34.6 grams Carbohydrates | 11.7 grams Protein | 9.9 grams Fiber

5 thoughts on “Fagioli all Uccelletto with cavolo nero

  1. Jes

    That’s a lot of not English in the dish’s name! 🙂 But it looks amazing–so hearty, so simple, so satisfying! Definitely bookmarking. And I can’t wait to hear about your tofu experiments!

    1. Monica Post author

      Perhaps I should have just called it “beans with kale”, but that wouldn’t sound so exotic and enticing. 🙂

  2. Laura@howtocookgoodfood

    This does sound excellent. I have a huge bag full of rainbow chard that I collected from the allotment yesterday. I will try out this recipe using it. I think I missed the boat on Cavolo nero this year, will have to do it next year as it is quite expensive to buy.
    Such a lovely recipe x

    1. Monica Post author

      Where I am the season has just begun for cavalo nero, so these are exciting times! Still, chard will work brilliantly I’m sure, or any hearty green vegetable. I could even see broccoli. Enjoy!

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